Recognizing Workplace Retaliation: 10 Significant Signs

Are you feeling sidelined at work after reporting an issue or exercising your rights? Retaliation in the workplace is a serious concern and understanding the signs can empower you to take action. At Moore Ruddell LLP, we stand with employees who feel their rights have been compromised, advocating for fairness and respect in the workplace.

What is Workplace Retaliation?

Retaliation happens when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in legally protected activity, such as complaining about discrimination or harassment or participating in a workplace investigation. In California, the Civil Rights Department (formerly the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) enforces laws that protect employees from such retaliatory actions. Understanding the signs of retaliation is the first step in addressing this issue.

Ten Signs of Retaliation in the Workplace

  • Unexpectedly Negative Performance Reviews:

Performance reviews typically reflect your work output and quality. If these suddenly turn negative despite your consistent performance, it may be a response to you exercising your legal rights at work.

  • Unjustified Exclusion from Meetings or Projects:

Meetings and projects can significantly impact your professional growth. If you notice that you’re being left out without a reasonable explanation, and this started after you engaged in a legally protected activity, it could be a sign of retaliation.

  • Unwarranted Discipline or Punishment:

Disciplinary actions should correspond to workplace issues or violations. If you’re facing punishments or disciplinary actions that don’t match your behavior or that seem disproportionate, your employer may be retaliating against you.

  • Unexplained Changes in Job Duties or Responsibilities:

Being assigned irrelevant tasks or those outside of your role without any explanation might be a method of making your work environment uncomfortable. If these changes occur after you’ve reported a workplace issue, it may be retaliation.

  • Sudden Schedule Changes:

Employers might change your schedule to inconvenient times or overload you with work, making it difficult to balance your personal life and job. If such changes follow your involvement in a protected activity, consider it a potential sign of retaliation.

  • Isolation or Alienation in the Workplace:

A sudden shift in how you’re treated by your colleagues or superiors might be subtle retaliation. This can involve being ignored, left out of social events, or facing hostility.

  • Denial of Promotion or Raise without Reason:

If you’re denied a well-deserved promotion or raise without clear reasoning, and this occurs after you’ve exercised your workplace rights, it could indicate retaliatory behavior.

  • Involuntary Job Transfer:

Transfers to less desirable positions, departments, or locations without justification might be used to pressure you into quitting or to make your work environment less pleasant.

  • Increased Scrutiny or Monitoring:

Unnecessary scrutiny that doesn’t align with your job performance, especially if it begins after you report a workplace issue, can be a method of retaliation.

  • Termination or Threats of Termination:

This is one of the most severe forms of retaliation. If threats of job loss or actual termination follow your engagement in a protected activity, you may be facing retaliation.

Each of these signs can manifest differently in different workplaces. What matters is recognizing when these changes occur following your involvement in a protected activity, such as reporting harassment or participating in an investigation.

Next Steps If You Notice These Signs

If you notice any of these signs of retaliation, it’s important to take action. Document instances of potential retaliation, noting dates, times, locations, and any individuals involved. Seek advice from a trusted mentor, HR representative, or legal professional.

How Moore Ruddell LLP Can Assist

We at Moore Ruddell LLP believe that every employee deserves a fair and respectful workplace.

If you’ve experienced any of these signs of retaliation in your workplace, we encourage you to reach out to us for a consultation. Remember, you are not alone, and you have rights. Together, we can strive for a workplace where fairness and respect reign supreme.

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